What is your ultimate idea of a pet? Cats, dogs, birds, ornamental fish, rabbits… your list might end there. But can you imagine an elephant standing in your courtyard flapping its ears? If you still can't charge your imagination to draw a picture like that, then come to Mangalamkunnu a small province in the village of Sreekrishnapuram in the district of Palakkad. Here, you will find about fourteen tuskers in and around a house relaxing and relishing the food and love offered by their owners - Parameswaran and Haridas.
For brothers Parameswaran and Haridas of Mangalamkunnu, popularly known as Mangalamkunnu brothers, elephants are family pets. At present they are the largest individual owners of elephants in Kerala, next only to Guruvayoor Devaswom. The Mangalamkunnu brothers stepped in to the world of elephants in 1978 when they bought an elephant from Uttar Pradesh, which they named as Ayyappankutty. Since then, they have been purchasing an elephant once in every two years and their family Mangalamkunnu Tharavadu gradually came to be known as Aana Tharavadu (Elephant Home).
Earlier, the elephants were bought from the northeastern states of India like Bihar and Assam. But presently buying elephants have become a costly affair especially after some restrictions were imposed in the trade of elephants. The Mangalamkunnu family doesn't want to see elephants as a source of income. It is their love for this giant peace-loving animal that prompts them to stay in the field. Because of their love for the elephants they are against deputing their jumbos for heavy works like pulling of logs.
Then how do they find money to support them? It's from the processions during festival times they find the money. Today elephants like Ayyappan, Karnan and Ganapathy of Mangalamkunnu are the most sought-after jumbos during the festival season. The money earned from festival processions compensates for the expenses incurred on the elephants during the whole year.
The fame of Mangalamkunnu elephants has crossed the borders and reached even other states of India, so much so that, they were the main attraction during the Miss Universe Competition held in Bengaluru (Bangalore) in 1996. Not just this, some of them have even made their presence on the silver screen and television ads. Tourists interested in elephant rides can hire elephants from Mangalamkunnu Elephant Home.
Ph: +91 466 2260603, 2261243
Nearest railway stations: Ottapalam railway station about 19 km
Nearest airports: Karipur International Airport, about 70 km; Coimbatore International Airport, about 95 km in neighbouring state, Tamil Nadu.